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Tour day schmalz 2012 Preview

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 7:50am by schmalz

The Tour day Schmalz returns this year for its seventh installment. It's an unfair and cruel look at the hardworking professionals of the pro peloton, and I guarantee that I will eventually make fun of your favorite rider. I even make fun of my own favorite riders, this just goes to show that life is, of course cruelly unfair, but you already knew that because Justin Bieber controls the entertainment world. But that's enough about barely pubescent pop stars, lets get to the business of discussing other body-hair-deficient men, shall we?

If you want the quick and dirty preview of this year's Tour de France it is as follows: Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans are the favorites and the Tour will essentially come down to who can most effectively avoid the most flying Spaniards in the hectic stages of the first week of the Tour (I'm looking at you, Euskaltel—you crash a lot—you know it's true).

A more nuanced analysis would tell you that this year's Tour has 96.1 kilometers of ITT (including the 6.1 prologue)—last year's Tour had only 42.5 kilometers of ITT, not including the 23 kilometers of team time trial that Euskaltel used to crush Sammy Sanchez's GC chances—so this year's Tour will favor a rider who can stay close in the mountains and make up time in the time trials. And that long and convoluted sentence serves to announce the death of Fränk Schleck's Tour hopes for this year. Thanks for coming Fränk, see you next year!

Coming into this Tour we have Bradley Wiggins on a tear with wins at Paris-Nice, the Tour de Romandie, and the Critérium du Dauphiné. Cadel won the Critérium International way back in the spring and was third at the Critérium du Dauphiné, which along with the Tour de Suisse, serves as a turbo trainer for racers to warm up on before the Tour. You could argue that Wiggo is coming in to form too early, but he has all of the science-ness of Team Sky (and their theme song) behind him. Cadel finished third at the Dauphiné this year, but he may have been playing his cards close to his chest. He podium-ed at the Dauphiné last year, and could be on target to have the same form again this year.

The GC Contenders

Cadel Evans

Let me start by saying that anyone's who's followed bikes for more than five years is still freaked out about how weird it sounds to describe Cadel as a savvy tactician who can dominate a race. It's just inconceivable. Five years ago, Cadel was written off as a timid wheel-follower who wouldn't attack and who descended like a pensioner on a balance board. But after he won the rainbow jersey, he transformed into a tenacious competitor who timed his attacks well and could grittily hang on and claw back time when he was attacked by better climbers. In 2007, I would've put better odds on dogs learning Esperanto than on Cadel turning into a calculating, winning machine, but he's done just that—and to Cadel I say, "Well done." and "No, I did not step on your dog."

And as opposed to last year, Cadel won't have to beg to have his team support him this year. There's no Thor SMASHing to contend with—BMC is all about Cadel this year. There's no sprinter taking up a spot that could be saved for someone who could help Cadel out, unlike...

Bradley Wiggins

Wiggo is essentially down two riders to Cadel with the inclusion of Mark Cavendish and Bernard Eisel. In the early stages, Sky will be putting their team at the front to help Cav wins stages against the likes of Sagan and Greipel while Cadel will be floating along in those stages in a red cloud of teammates whose only job will be to provide a soft spot for him to land on lest he get tangled up with a (not Oscar, he can ride his bike) Spaniard. This early stage hunting could serve to wear out the Sky riders for later in the race, when they might want to, you know, win the Tour.

If Cadel can gain time on Wiggo in the mountains, that could potentially offset any time he'd lose to Wiggo in the time trials. And if Wiggo is left isolated because Froome was busy heading the leadout train in the early stages while Cadel has Tejay setting the pace in the mountains, look for the slap fight of the century later at the Team Sky bus between Wiggo and Cav. Personally, I hoping they fight whilst the Sky Team Theme song is playing.

Vincenzo Nibali

Back in early May, Nibali decided to announce that he wasn't going to be riding for Liquigas-Cannondale anymore (telling them, "It's not you, it's me."), and as new team announcements go, this one was a bit early, like 4 months too early. And he hasn't named which team he will be going to, mind you, he just knows that it will be "not Liquigas-Cannondale". This does not bode well for a guy who will want some help from his teammates in the Tour.

Nibali's situation is akin to that of a gal waiting in line outside a night club who ditches her friends, chats up the bouncer to get in and giggles to her friends, "I'll see you inside!" I am sure that things at the Tour won't be in the least bit awkward at all, especially when Nibali's hotel room is filled with potential suitors that are trying to sign him for the entire race.

If Nibali can survive the "Private Pyle Full Metal Jacket" midnight visits from his teammates, he can do well at the Tour, but his urine filled water bottles may put a damper on his chances.

Fränk Schleck

The good news is that Fränk won't have to worry about looking around for Andy during the race. The bad news is that he'll be searching at 6th place—and he'll lose so much time in the time trials that he'll finish in 2008.


I guess it's my duty as an American to mention that Levi Leipheimer will be riding the Tour, it's also my duty as a person with a frontal lobe and an operating memory to mention that Levi only wins races that are about a week long. The Tour is three weeks long, and the math says Levi will be dirty dancing with fifth place.

Chris Horner

Horner got ca-bonged out of last year's race, and he almost didn't make this year's team. If I were to be generous, I'd describe the situation at Radio Shack as a tire fire in hell's junkyard. The only way Horner becomes the Radio Shack team leader is if Fränk gets sick of trying and if Klöden gets kidnapped. Horner is probably Radio Shack's plan C, but he's his own Plan A, so the first few mountain days will be interesting to say the least.

Robert Gesink

Gesink could really surprise at this year's Tour, but somehow he always finds a way to forget to race during one of the stages of a three week race. This tends to make him do things like finish 6th. Gesink won the Tour of California, but nobody noticed because Sagan won five of the eight stages there. Gesink's time trialing isn't disastrous though, so he could put in an attack in the mountains and potentially catapult himself onto the podium.

Denis Menchov

Menchov will race. He will finish somewhere in the top ten. No one will care. Menchov is the Moody Blues of bikes.

Andreas Klöden

You can't spell Klöden without öld.

Thomas Voeckler

Voeckler's dropped out of two races so far this season with knee issues. He's basically been included in Europcar's Tour roster due to his stifling Frenchness, because Rolland will likely have a better Tour than Voeckler. But that doesn't mean that France won't obsess over Voeckler, his knee will be watched as karefully in France as Kim Kardashian's keyster. But unlike last year, he won't have the benefit of the element of surprise, and won't get as much leeway if he attacks. If his knee is still attached by the third week of the Tour, watch for him to get into a break and put on the "Voeckler Show", but his odds at hitting the top ten are very slim.

Ryder Hesjesdal

Can Ryder win the Giro and the Tour? I really doubt it, as the last Tour/Giro double winner was Marco Pantani in 1998, when he was racing with blood so thick he could've used it for mortar to build a a nice brick pirate ship. Plus, it's time for him to pay back VDV for his help in the Giro, which brings me to…

Can VDV win the Tour?

Why the hell not? There's lots of TT kilometers and he can hang in the mountains, it will take some luck, but anything can happen. And I will try to not jinx anything here by mentioning the words "VDV" and "crash" in the same sentence.

The sprinters

The most exciting race this year could potentially be between Sagan and Cavendish in the sprints. Sagan has been handily winning this year, and Cav is showing good form also (although he's allegedly losing weight so he can do well at the Olympics), and I can't wait to see what happens when they go head to head. I realize that there's other sprinters that will be at the Tour this year (Kittel gets his first start this year for instance), but I can't see any of the other sprinters beating Cav or Sagan without help from Spain and gravity.

Side Stories

Daniel Oss

Never in the history of bike racing has there been a celebration wingman like Daniel Oss. No one parties in the back after the business up front like Oss, and if Sagan wins at the Tour, look for something special from Oss. I've heard he's hired a falconer.

Johnny Hoogerland

Johnny Hoogerland has become the patron saint of epic slo-mo replays with his VIP-vehicle induced cartwheel into the barbed wire fence from last year, but there were a lot of us who were into Hoogie before he went mainstream. Old school Hoogie fans will hoping for some classic attacks from 1,000k out at this year's Tour.

Sandy Casar and Jérémy Roy

I don't think there was anyone off the front for more kilometers last year than Casar and Roy. Watch for them to French the front of the race all Tour long.

The Polka Dot Jersey

The poor polka dot jersey, it's like an emo band's long forgotten myspace page, it just sits there, waiting for someone to care. Someone (probably French) will do the math about halfway through the race and will try to win the jersey, but barely anyone will remember who won the jersey after the Tour's over.

A final request

I am begging, as a person who cannot abide watching time trials, that the Tour consider using my idea of time staggered handicap starts for the final time trial in the Tour. The idea is simple, take the top 20 riders (let the rest of the guys just do a normal time trial—or none at all—take the day off Fränk!) and start them off according to their time gaps. The leader in the GC goes first and if anyone catches him before the line—they win the Tour. Who wouldn't watch this? Of course, there would be no drafting allowed, and with twenty guys it wouldn't be that hard to police. We need this to happen. And if the Tour won't do it, I'm taking my idea to the Vuelta, because they'll try anything, in fact, I'm pretty sure I could get them to eat a bug if I gave them a dollar.


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Have some sympathy, and some
By: mellow johnny
Wed, 07/11/2012 - 12:09am

Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste

Follow us on Twitter. Bonus:
By: Andy Shen
Tue, 07/10/2012 - 11:32pm

Follow us on Twitter. Bonus: it's live!

Infinitely Bummed.
By: Johnny Big Ring
Tue, 07/10/2012 - 11:08pm

Where is the daily schmalz summary of the Tour de France stages? They were better than the actual races (in some instances)!

Great idea
By: a babaian
Sat, 07/07/2012 - 9:20am

That final request idea is brilliant. By now, you must know people in high places to slide that one in somewhere in some meeting.

Re: Cadel in the past. Could it be that he could only follow wheels in the past because he was one of the only clean riders (or do we assume as much) to crack the top 10? There were some years he couldn't make it to the tour because of broken bones, then had one year of non-selection on Telekom. Then, he had Armstrong, Landis, Contador, and Sastre, Contador x 2 in front of him (and we all can assume what Sastre was on in that last TT).

...funny but dead...
By: bikesoverthemoon
Wed, 07/04/2012 - 3:47am

...-on analysis of the contenders, i mean...

...your tt idea makes a ton of sense...prob'ly never be used just for that reason...

...instead we get yellow helmets on the lead team...for bragging rights ???..."hey, my team wore the 'casque jaune' for 10 days at le tour de france !!!"...
..."meh, no big, dude..."

...with love (& hope that ryder podiums), bgw...
By: Loggia Hammer
Sun, 07/01/2012 - 4:11pm
By: Nicolas Rubber Hood
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 8:32pm

I can't believe you've gone all gooey on Cadel.

Love it!
By: Schmirnov
Thu, 06/28/2012 - 2:52pm

you can't spell Klodi without Oldi. Great

By: Mats Compliant
Thu, 06/28/2012 - 12:07pm

With all of these TT kilometers do you think Dave Zabriskie will place higher than usual? He seems to get lost in the mix on non TT stages.

By: Bendigo Floodpants
Thu, 06/28/2012 - 10:51am

la Vuelta



the tour starts in June

Central Park Classic / Number Pickup
By: mv
Thu, 06/28/2012 - 8:07am

The Central Park Classic is Saturday

Number pickup is available Thursday at Third and Long. Come out for Happy Hour Specials.

If you want to pick up your number at Third and Long you must be registered before 4PM today. Waivers are being printed at 4PM so if you're not registered at that point you'll have to get your number Saturday AM.

Questions -

By: Mickey
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 5:59pm

Kind of like Rocky Balboa Vs Mason Dixon

Radio Shack
By: Roller
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 5:28pm

I think that Lance will ride strong in this year's tour, but it will be Andy Schleck that takes the yellow. Lance is getting old and not what he used to be.

Tommy D
By: Jens Sealant
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 4:12pm

I think that Tommy Simpson has a better chance this year than Tommy Danielson...

I'm rooting for Chris Horner
By: Mathieu Drainhole
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 3:42pm

Will he be Radio Shack's team leader?

Not sure I get the title
By: mikeweb
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 3:01pm

Not sure I get the title graphic: the heads of the contenders mixed together with the results of a 'de-meating' session?

Tommy D
By: Whata Bottle
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 1:22pm

Tom Danielson will never win the tour. Let's be realistic here

That TT Idea
By: Rob H
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 1:20pm

Is EFFING brilliant. I would totally watch that Schmalz!

Tommy D
By: Mathis Locknut
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 1:19pm

you really dont have any super climbers this year. All diesel engine times. This is why I think Tommy D or any of the Garmin guys could win this thing. I really think it will be a boring tour of the GC guys just grinding up the hills together and then letting the TT decide it. You will have fun days with non-GC guys blowing things up but the top 10 will just ride up together.

Maybe a guy like Sanchez could do it but he is not explosive enough on the long climbs. I am waiting for Cancellera to drop 15 lbs and win this thing....

Will Tommy D break a new
By: Mohamed Dropout
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:45am

Will Tommy D break a new personal best Strava segment during the tour?

Only if you watch all day
By: Hugo Stiff
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:30am

Assume the usual candidates will have their strong ITT and then watch the last hour to see how the leaders shake out. I'd rather watch a full day in the mountains, too, but don't mind the truthiness reflected in the result.

One TT only. They are
By: Titouan Cable
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:26am

One TT only. They are excruciating to watch, and even worse for their weight towards the GC. I'd rather watch a CX or even a MTB stage.

Snarktastic, But Tommy D?
By: Hugo Stiff
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:21am

Garmin's issues are compiled by another potential podium candidate. All three seem nice enough to follow the others despite ambitions, but who's to say it isn't Tommy D having his water carried by stage 10?

Blue Ribbon
By: Schiatuzzo Locknut
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:14am
By: Mathis Locknut
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 10:52am

I actually think he will podium this year,. The route seems to favor him a bit. I see a new winner this year with Cadel and Basso on the podium. My prediction is that Tommy D wins this thing... Flame away

By: L.A. Oop
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 10:34am

Nibali will become the first rider in modern tour history to switch teams during the race. He may even switch twice.

Johan Bruyneel will fall asleep on his sofa while watching the Tour and suddenly wake up and yell, "Did I finish? Did I finish?"

Chris Horner will win. Not the Tour, but the Save-A-Limb Century on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, MD. Cycling history fans will note that Floyd Landis won the SaveALimb after his Tour (ahem) victory.

I disagree, he was really
By: schmalz
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:34am

I disagree, he was really spooked after he broke his collarbone, and his descending suffered.

One correction: He may have
By: Arnaud Torque
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:32am

One correction: He may have been a bit timid going uphill, but Cadel was always a bad-ass descender.

By: Colin P.
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:22am

I think that sounds awesome. They do that in Nordic Combined and XC skiing events. The finish of the Tour de Ski (stage racing is still new to skiing) is a hill climb where the racer's are started at intervals equal to their time gaps and the finish is so much more exciting.

Not a joke at all, I am dead
By: schmalz
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:15am

Not a joke at all, I am dead serious about that.

By: Dumb biker
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:14am

Not sure if you are joking but I am into that top 20 TT idea. Would be REALLY fun to watch

Non Olympians
By: Ethan Downtube
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:07am

These guys are still racing?

I predict Lance will not
By: schmalz
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 9:00am

I predict Lance will not finish the Tours from 1999-2005

Great jorb
By: Ayoub Tracknut
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 8:57am

Spot on analysis... What no Lance on the list?

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